Walk for Warmth raises community spirit, funds

LAKE COUNTY — The 18th Annual Walk for Warmth was held last Saturday, Feb. 19, and drew upwards of forty marchers for the cause of helping area citizens cope with the high cost of fuel for residential dwellings. The popular yearly event, sponsored by FiveCAP, Inc., has become a late-winter tradition in Lake County.

Clearly the participants were having a great time and enjoying the outdoor exercise.

The two-mile hike began at the community room of St. Ann Church in Baldwin and progressed through town under sunny skies, aided by moderate temperatures. Everyone involved expressed great enthusiasm, and emphasized the real need the Walk for Warmth.

“We are here to help keep people warm,” noted walker Lee Schwartz.

Fellow walker Maribeth Reed remarked, “In this cold weather, lots of people in Lake County really need help.”

One of the organizers of the project, Dawn Summers, pointed out that cutbacks in state and federal funding have added to the urgency of the situation. Many citizens in northwest Michigan struggle during the winter months to balance their budgets and provide heat for their families, a juggling act that can prove challenging in the face of rising food and gasoline prices.

The sad fact is that more than once, individuals have actually frozen to death in their own homes because they could not afford propane or wood.

The wonderful folks who gave so generously of themselves last Saturday are truly an inspiration to the whole community. Their spirit of good-will and selflessness was very much in evidence.

“You can feel the love, and see it in the smiling faces. Thank goodness the weather is cooperating,” noted marcher Kay Katora.

“God has been good to me -- and I want to be good to everybody else,” said Wade Bennett, who came in from Evart to join the ‘parade.’

Baldwin resident Susie Tripp observed, “Extending ourselves for others is really the basis for human-kind. We all try to help one another in different ways.”

Local pastor the Rev. Leroy Childress invoked God’s blessing and extended heartfelt thanks to all.

Each participant in the fund-raiser received a souvenir tee-shirt which bore the caption, “Warm a Heart/Heat a Home.” The shirts were donated by Mike’s Screen Printing — one of the many area businesses that got involved and helped sponsor the walk this year. Other corporate “angels” included: AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary and AMVETS Sons, Ace Hardware, Baldwin Car Care, Pattie Drug Store, the Baldwin Outlet, B & M Heating and Cooling, Verdun Funeral Home, Jack’s Quick Stop, the Northwest Lake County Senior Center, and Subway restaurant, which provided lunch for the walkers.

Also represented were the Baldwin Congregational Church, the Good Will Church, the Church of Christ, the Lake County District Health Department No. 10, the Community Thrift Shop, and the Hollister Senior Center, as well as FiveCAP, Inc.

Many marchers at last Saturday’s event have been involved in this charity for many years, but they all agreed that it would be great to see more new-comers get on board. “I wish more young people would get involved with Walk for Warmth,” said Michele Libby.

If you are feeling hard pressed to manage your heating bills this season, contact FiveCAP, Inc. to see if you may be eligible for assistance, for more information call (231) 745-4617.